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Elephant Ear Caladium Plant Care – Must-Read Guide!

Elephant Ear Caladium Plant Care – Must-Read Guide!

One of the most popular Caladiums is the Elephant Ears, botanically known as the Colocasia Esculenta. 

The plant gives rise to gorgeous large, colorful foliage that adds a tropical look to any space, be it a garden, office, or house.

The leaves of this beautiful Caladium resemble elephant ears, hence the unusual name.

The Colocasia Esculenta plant has several types, but the most common ones include Caladium, Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma

Naturally growing in rainy and warm regions, the Elephant Ears plant brings lush, thick tropical forests to mind. 

The most popular types have arrow or heart-shaped, oversized leaves with red and white decorative veining.

The Elephant Ears plant had several admirers in the Victorian age. But recently, with the increasing craze for exotic plants, the beauty has gained fans again. 

The Elephant Ears is not only easy on the eyes; it also has a fairly manageable care routine which makes it an excellent houseplant.

 

Elephant Ear Caladium Plant Care

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant thrives in full sun to partial shade. It enjoys fertile, organic soils containing compost or peat moss. With regular watering and fertilizing, the plant reaches maturity, growing to a height of 6 inches (15 centimeters) mostly. Mild to highly humid areas with temperate climates are its favorites. Keep the temperature between 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29.4 degrees Celsius).

 

Soil

The Caladiums, including the Elephant Ears, grow exceptionally well even if the soil is not up to its liking. 

However, it is no science that a plant growing in its ideal soil type will perform much better than one developing in poor conditions. 

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant thrives in loamy, evenly moist soils with organic matter. 

You can mix some ground soil with peat moss, chopped and dried leaves, worm castings, or any similar material. The goal is to make the plant’s soil organic so that it flourishes fully.

A great way to improve soil moisture is to add mulch or sawdust. Both are great options; however, the latter is cheaper and does the job almost just as well. 

I strongly advise you to stay away from sandy or thick soils; these absorb excess water and increase the Elephant Ears plant’s susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections. 

Other than using light soils, please ensure your container has three or more drainage holes at its bottom.

 

Water

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant likes moderate to frequent watering.

In its natural tropical habitat, it usually receives more than three inches of rainfall per week, and so it expects the same in its artificial surroundings. 

Ideally, water the plant every two days or give it two to three inches of water per week. To minimize the probability of infections, keep the leaves dry. 

Instead of adding water to the leaves and buds, I recommend watering the roots mainly. Adequately moisturized roots will evenly distribute water, making sure each part gets its fair share.

Another reliable option is the Elephant Ear’s soil; when dry, add water till the top one to two inches of the soil are sufficiently moist. 

On the other hand, if the top layer seems wet, withhold watering for a few more hours to days, depending on the soil condition. 

I suggest using room temperature water which is chlorine-free and contains little to no fluoride.

 

Light

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant enjoys plenty of sunlight. However, if exposed to unobstructed solar rays for long hours, the plant quickly loses moisture and may even wilt. 

The solution to this seemingly big problem is balance.

When it comes to the Elephant Ears Caladium, the secret to right balancing is growing the plant from full sunlight to partial shade

Different varieties may prefer different lighting conditions; while some like partial to deep shade, others enjoy fully basking in the sun’s glory. 

To make sure what your Elephant Ears Caladium plant likes, start with placing it in dappled sunlight and keep track of its progress for a week to ten days. 

You may grow the Elephant Ear indoors or outdoors; just keep in mind that the plant must not be left under direct sunlight. 

If placed in a garden, keep it under a tree’s shade or a mesh net. In contrast, if you are growing the Elephant Ears Caladium plant inside the house, put it next to an east or south-facing window.

In most cases, these two window directions offer just the right amount of light.

Alternatively, you can grow the Elephant Ears Caladium under artificial growing lights, provided your plant type is compatible with it.

 

Temperature

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant is fond of warm climates with mild to moderate temperatures. Thus, they do not tolerate unfavorable temperatures for long. 

The areas with weather similar to that of its homeland allow the Elephant Ears to reach its full potential in terms of growth and blooming.

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant thrives in temperatures higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). 

Ideally, it likes temperatures ranging from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 29.4 degrees Celsius) in the daytime. 

During the night, maintain a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) or higher.

If the temperature scale drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius), things will begin to complicate for you. 

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant’s leaves may undergo frost, root rot, or its roots may cease growing. Furthermore, the Caladium’s productivity decreases, leading to reduced flowering and budding.

 

Humidity

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant will grow into a happy and healthy plant if you maintain moderate to high moisture levels. 

The humidity helps the plant flourish, keeps the leaves fresh and vibrant, and maintains the plant’s structure. 

It likes overall moisture levels of 50% or higher; this is not too high for humans. Luckily, they also prefer values close to it; another reason why the Elephant Ears Caladium plant is an excellent houseplant. 

You can establish this range by either installing a moisture meter in your plant’s room or grouping your houseplants in one space. 

Other ways include placing a pebble and water-filled tray close to the Elephant Ears Caladium plant and misting it frequently.

Please remember that misting is not a watering substitute. You must water the plant, whereas misting is optional.

 

Fertilizer

Fortunately, there are numerous fertilizers available in the markets that are made for Caladiums explicitly. 

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant thoroughly enjoys premium-quality balanced fertilizers with nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium as their macro-elements and calcium, Sulphur, and manganese as micro-elements.

You can use a slow-release, water-soluble feed once a month, ensuring that you work it well into wet soil. 

Alternatively, you may add a liquid, instant-release fertilizer every two weeks that breaks down relatively quickly and keeps the plant well-fed for approximately two weeks.

 

Repotting

Almost all the Caladiums, including the Elephant Ears Caladium plant, do not require frequent repotting. 

In most cases, they do not need transplanting at all unless their roots are circling their pots or the soil requires fresh nutrients.

Usually, the Elephant Ears Caladium outgrows its pot in about two years. You will see some of its roots poking from the pot’s bottom, or the pot itself might crack or fill up instantly every time you water the plant.

I suggest you repot the plant in a slightly bigger pot, about one inch larger. 

Please be sure to replace the old, used-up soil with a new soil mix containing organic matter, such as chopped leaves or worms. I also add mulch sometimes for retaining moisture.

 

Pruning

Surprisingly, the Elephant Ears Caladium plant likes pruning. Even in general, cutting back your plants every few weeks or months (depending on the growth rate) is a good idea. 

It removes dead, diseased foliage, unruly vines, and gives the plant an appropriate, manageable shape.

Prune the Elephant Ears Caladium plant every two to three weeks or later, when its leaves are damaged or turned brown due to old age or disease. Also, cut away vines growing erratically. 

Please remember to disinfect your pruning shears with mild alcohol before using them.

 

Propagation

The Elephant Ears Caladium is a lush plant; however, it cannot be propagated from cuttings like several other Caladiums. Instead, use tubers to propagate it. 

You will need a mature Elephant Ears Caladium plant, clean scissors, fertilizer, water, and a deep pot filled with an appropriate soil mix. 

Also, to increase the probability of successful propagation, plant it outdoors in spring. 

  • Dig up the parent Elephant Ears Caladium and divide the tubers using your hands or scissors.
  • Now carefully remove the parent plant out of its pot by grabbing onto the main stem. If in the ground, use your shovel for some extra help.
  • Gently shake the plant to dust off the mud so you can see the tubers clearly.
  • Now select the healthiest tubers you see; some roots already grow on them.
  • Next, untangle and cut away the chosen tubers along with their roots from the parent plant. Use a knife or scissors to help you.
  • Put the new tubers in the pot with the soil mix. Make a hole in the pot that is slightly larger than the tuber’s roots. Place the tuber inside with the pointy side facing up.
  • Now pack the soil around the tuber with your hands and give it some water at the end.

Plant the tubers immediately if you live in a warm area. However, if you rather grow them later, keep the pot in a dark and dry place till it is time. 

Give the plant about two to four weeks to adjust to its environment. 

Once it sprouts more roots and gains some shape and height, you may treat it as a mature Elephant Ears Caladium plant. 

 

Blooms

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant forms blooms when put in the right conditions. 

Since the plant is primarily grown for its foliage, most house gardeners remove the flowers to direct all energy towards the leaves.

The blooms are typically aroid shape with a white, yellow, or light green colored spathe that surrounds a spadix. They are rare in the Midwest.

 

Growth

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant has a moderate to fast growth rate. It mostly sprouts three to eight weeks after planting

To speed up the growing process, some gardeners start the plant inside then move it outdoors.

It actively grows through USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, attaining a height of 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.24 centimeters) and a width of 24 inches (61 centimeters).

 

Common Problems for Elephant Ears Caladium

 

Leaf Blight

One of the most common fungal diseases affecting the Elephant Ears Caladium plant is Leaf Blight, caused by Phytophthora fungus. 

Initially, the leaves form tiny, round lesions that later begin oozing clear fluid, which turns purple or yellow after drying.

The spots then coalesce and spread further. The leaves also develop a whitish fuzzy material, which is fungal spores. As the disease progresses, it eats up the leaves and infects the stems as well.

To treat the plant, use a copper-based fungicide and profusely spray all the affected parts. Additionally, place the Elephant Ears Caladium under bright sunlight for some time.

 

Pythium Rot

Another serious, often fatal disease is Pythium Rot which generally attacks the roots. It is caused by parasites instead of fungi and thrives in humid climates. 

The diseased Elephant Ears Caladium plant suffers growth decline and dies within days due to severe infection of the main stems. 

To prevent it, avoid placing your Elephant Ears Caladium plant in overly humid environments and refrain from overwatering. Moreover, please do not let the water settle over its leaves for long.

 

Leaf Spot

This disease is not as severe as the other two; however, it significantly brings down the Elephant Ears plant’s aesthetic value. 

The leaves form brown lesions and eventually drop, giving the plant a ‘shot up’ appearance.

To save your plant, keep it dry and avoid overwatering it.

 

Tips for Growing Elephant Ears Caladium

  • Place in bright, dappled sunlight or full sun. 
  • If you plan to grow later, store the tubers in a dark place till the weather is warmer. 
  • Remove and isolate diseased plants immediately.
  • Practice frequent misting and maintain a correct watering schedule.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Elephant Ears Caladium Plant Care

 

Where should I grow my Elephant Ears Caladium plant?

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant grows best when placed in full to filtered sunlight. Most varieties prefer the latter; however, the colored, darker varieties thrive better in full sun. Place the plant under shelter to save its large leaves from strong winds.

 

Does the Elephant Ears Caladium plant multiply?

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant can multiply fairly rapidly if you grow it from tubers. For immediate planting, start them indoors, then move outdoors. For later planting, store them in a dark, dry place till the weather warms up.

 

Why do Elephant Ears Caladium’s leaves turn yellow?

The Elephant Ears Caladium plant’s leaves can turn yellow due to a wide variety of reasons. The most common is an inconsistent or incorrect watering schedule. Water the plant every two days and keep it in full sun to bright, dappled sunlight.

 

Conclusion

The Elephant Ears Caladium is a wonderful plant that can be grown as a background plant, for edging around ponds and waterfall decorations. 

It comes in various colors and sizes, so you’ll have lots of options to choose from. It needs full to partial sun, regular watering and fertilizing, and warm climates. 

Bring one home today to brighten your home.